WCIT 2018: Keep common man in mind when developing IT, says Narendra Modi

I am happy to inaugurate the World Congress on Information Technology. This event is being held in India for the first time. It has been organised in partnership with NASSCOM, WITSA and the Government of Telangana.

I am sure, it shall be of mutual benefit to investors, innovators, think-tanks and other stakeholders from across the world. I would have liked to be there in person. I am happy, however, that the power of IT enables me to address you remotely.

To all the delegates joining us from abroad: Welcome to India. Welcome to Hyderabad. On the sidelines of this conference, I hope you shall have some time to explore the vibrant history, and delectable cuisine of Hyderabad. I am sure, it shall encourage you to visit other parts of India as well. Indeed, India is home to ancient, rich and diverse cultures, through which runs an under-lying theme of unity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the world is one family”, is deeply imbibed in Indian philosophy. It reflects our inclusive traditions. In the 21st century, technology is becoming an enabler of this concept. It helps us create a seam-less, integrated world. A world where geographical distance no longer remains a barrier in collaborating for a better future. Today, India is the hot-spot of digital innovation, across all sectors.

We not only have a growing number of innovative entrepreneurs, but also a growing market for tech innovation. We were and we remain one of the most tech friendly populations in the world. With over one lakh villages linked with optical fiber, 121 crore mobile phones and 50 crore internet users. India is best placed to leverage the power of technology and leap-frog into the future while ensuring empowerment of every citizen. Digital India is a journey bringing about digital inclusion for digital empowerment aided by digital infrastructure for digital delivery of services. Leveraging technology in such a holistic manner was unthinkable some years ago.

We have successfully completed this life-cycle in the last three and a half years. This has been possible through a change in public behaviour and processes. Digital India has not remained merely a government initiative, but has become a way of life.

Technology has transcended power-point presentations and has become an inseparable part of people’s lives. While most government initiatives depend on a government push, Digital India is succeeding because of the people’s pull.

The JAM trinity of combining 320 million Jan Dhan bank accounts of poor with Aadhaar and mobile with direct benefits of welfare measures has saved Rs 570 billion.

Around 22 million digital hospital transactions across 172 hospitals in India are bringing comfort in the lives of patients. The National Scholarship Portal for easy Scholarships today has 14 million students registered on it. eNAM — an online agriculture market offering the best prices to the farmers has 6.6 million farmers registered and 470 agriculture markets connected. Digital payments through BHIM-UPI has registered transactions of Rs 150 billion in January 2018. The unique Umang app launched only three months back is already offering 185 government services.

Today 2.8 lakh Common Services Centers are there in different parts of the country giving many digital services to people. About 10 lakh people work in these centers, including thousands of women entrepreneurs. In order to leverage the skills and talent of our youth, BPOs have started operating from places like Kohima and Imphal in North East India to areas of Jammu and Kashmir. 86 Units across 27 states and Union territories have already become operational and many more are likely to come up soon.

To ensure digital literacy in every house-hold, we have initiated a Pradhan Mantri Rural Digital Literacy Mission to make 60 million adults digitally literate in rural India. Under this10 million people have already been trained.

We have come a long way with the convergence of Make In India & Digital India. From only two mobile manufacturing units in India in 2014, today there are 118 units operational in India, including some of the best global brands.

Government e-Market-place has been developed as the National Procurement Portal of India. It enables small and medium enterprises to compete in meeting the procurement requirements of the government. This simple IT framework has improved transparency in government procurement. It has also speeded up procurement processes, and empowered thousands of small and medium enterprises.

Yesterday, at Mumbai University, I had the opportunity to dedicate to the nation, the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence. This is an independent, non-profit research institute, with a mission of Artificial Intelligence for Social Good.

A few days ago, in Dubai, at the World Government Summit, I had the opportunity to visit an exhibition on the “Museum of the Future.” This has been planned as an incubator for ideas, and a driver for innovation. I appreciate the pioneers of technology, some of whom are in the audience today, for the work they are doing. They are helping to secure a better, more comfortable future for humanity. We stand today, at the cusp of the fourth Industrial Revolution.

Technology, if used well for public good, can deliver lasting prosperity to mankind and a sustainable future for our planet. It is in this context, that I place the World Conference on Information Technology, in India today. The key themes at this conference, reflect the opportunities that await us. Disruptive technologies such as block-chain and the internet of things, will have a deep impact in the way we live and work. They will require rapid adaptation in our workplaces.

Skilling citizens for the workplace of the future is Important. In India, we have launched the National Skill Development Mission to prepare our children and youth for a bright future. We also need to ensure that our existing work-forces able to re-skill, as new technologies emerge.  I am sure, that as you deliberate on various themes of Information Technology, you shall keep the interests of the common man at the back of your mind.

Edited excerpts from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the world conference on IT, Hyderabad, February 19.

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